The further we get into the 21st Century, the less need there is for fancy Q gadgets…because you can buy something better and cooler right off the shelf — which brings us to a new gadget for your James Bond: 007 campaign: the iPhone (or any smartphone, for that matter) and the SCOUT (Satellite Communications Operational User Toolkit).

Firstly, the smartphone. It is obvious how useful these things are in the field just from the number of movies and TV shows that are using them as plot elements. Having avoided the smartphone for years, I finally broke down and bought an iPad when they first came out. (Okay, not a phone…unless you drop Skype on it.) The basic features alone make them indispensable for the fictional spy: they’re a phone. They’re a map. They’re email, web access, a file storage device, a recorder, a camera…and everyone has one, so they’re not immediately suspicious.

For both iOS and Android there are easy and fast programming toolkits. Q Branch (or S&T) tweaks can give you crypto tools, R/C controls over vehicles (here’s a nice article on some of the other nasty tricks you can use a smartphone for …), etc. etc… Some hardware hacks and your phone could have IR on the camera or some other funky feature. I’ve found our characters in our Bond campaign depend on their phones more than a gun, car, or any other tool.

Add to that the SCOUT — a new device that uses your smartphone as a communications base for satellite communications, GPS, wifi hot spot, comms analysis, spectrum analyser…here’s the sales sheet for more.

From a plot standpoint, the usefulness of the smartphone was obvious in Casino Royale — bad guys, as much as good guys, live off their phones if you’re a mobile, busy henchman. They’re packed with data, even when the user is careful. There’s phone numbers, at the very least. Even if they are password locked, most people don’t realize that smartphones’ OS usually have a root password for service providers to break in and fix stuff…hacking a phone is fairly easy (especially the Androids.)

In the series, the Colonials use an assortment of rifles: for the first few seasons they are P90s (mostly likely because they had props from Stargate as well as shovelfuls of 5.7x28mm ammo — hence the move to the “futuristic” FiveSeven handgun), and toward the end of season one they’re using Beretta Cx4 Storm Carbines in 9mm.

Let’s face it: a 9mm carbine against an armored mechanical monstrosity is, well…stupid. So here’s a simple retcon for you — use the Beretta Rx4 Carbine in .223. They look almost the same, but they have a “real” rifle round that, if they were loading steel tips, could punch through Cylons. The Beretta Rx4 and the Benelli MR1 look almost like the Cx4…it if had balls.

Stats for Battlestar Galactica RPG: Leo GMR1 5.56mm   Damage: d8W   Range: 125 yards   Cost: 3500 cubits   Availability: Military.  (Figure a civilian version would be semi-auto, cost half as much, and be “rare”.)

Now lets do it up for the James Bond: 007 RPG: Benelli MR1 / Beretta Rx4 5.56mm

The Benelli uses the same ARGO gas-piston system of their combat shotgun and R1 rifle series, giving the MR1 superb reliability and clean operation. The rifle uses standard M16/M4/AR15 magazines, which are released by an ambidextrous release on the receiver, the bolt release and safety are on the forward trigger guard. The rifle can be had in a solid stock or collapsible, like their M4 Super 90 series shotgun.

The MR1 is similar in power and range to AR carbines with a 16″ barrel, but the accuracy is slightly less precise — that said, the MR1 has a tendency to shot 2″ groups out to 300 yards consistently…it jus doesn’t tend to shoot much tighter. Recoil is less than on the AR series of rifles.

PM: 0   S/R: 2/10   AMMO: 30   DC: I/L   CLOS: 0-20   LONG: 35-65   CON: n/a   JAM: 99   DR: -3 RL: 2 COST: $1200

This is Ferrari’s latest addition to their V-8 line-up that is designed to evoke the old 250 California. The car is made of lightweight aluminum with a retractable hardtop, and is a 2+ cabin (it’s a two-seater with a hint of a back seat bench. Packing a direct-injection 4.3 liter V-8 that pumps out 460hp and 358 ft-lbs. of torque, the vehicle transmits power through a electronically-controlled, dual clutch six-speed gearbox, that pushes it from 0-60 in 3.9 seconds. It has several settings: sport, comfort, and CST-off. The electronics include an iPod dock, USB ports, and Bluetooth. The gearing is actuated with paddle shifters on the steering column, a suspension evolved from F1 racing cars, and carbon fiber Brembo brakes.

PM:  +2   RED: 3   CRUS: 100   MAX: 193   RNG: 200   FCE: 2   STR: 7   COST: $135,000

GM Information: The California gains a +1EF to double back and quick turn maneuvers (including hard braking.)

 

Coming soon is the Kimber Solo Carry 9mm, a lightweight handgun about the size of the Kel-Tec .380.  It’s about half an inch longer and wider in barrel and handle with a weight comparable to the loaded FN Fiveseven — easily a well-concealable sidearm that would be perfect for that undercover operative or officer.

They haven’t hit the stores yet, so the specs for James Bond: 007 RPG are speculative, but should be close.  The internals look to be a striker fired weapon like the Glock, but with the same barrel and recoil spring assembly as the 1911 (which Kimber excels at.)

PM: 0   S/R: 2   AMMO: 6   DC: E   CLOS: 0-2   LONG: 8-14   CON: -4   JAM: 92+   DR: +1   RL: 1   COST: $750

UPDATE! Having talked to several owners of the Solo here in New Mexico, it seems to be more than finicky on it’s ammunition. The JAM rating represents the Solo shooting 124grain and higher ammo. If using the mil-spec or junk 115 grain you’re likely to find (or lighter self-defense loads like the Pow-R-Ball, the jam is 85+. And that’s being kind.

For the Kimber haters, there’s also the Ruger LC9 coming soon — a bit larger (an inch on the barrel and a half inch on the grip) than the Solo, but about the same weight.

PM: 0   S/R: 2   AMMO: 7   DC: E   CLOS: 0-2   LONG: 8-14   CON: -3   JAM: 98+   DR: +1   RL: 1   COST: $500

I’ve launched myself into a project to distract me, when needed, from the dissertation work.  That project is a revision of some of the rules from the old James Bond: 007 RPG from the 1980s.  The project has been taking on a greater life, however, as I find myself scrapping some of the old rules, rewriting others, and generally turning the venerable old standby for my espionage or modern games and turning into a new game system.

Some of the changes include new rules to emulate the change in action movies — specifically adding martial arts specializations for the hand-to-hand combat, “spray and pray” style gun fu for the fire combat, and a new initiative system that matches the bidding of the chase rules — making the action sequences consistent and ridding us of the d6 that always felt pasted on to the d100 of JB:007.   The effects of your Speed rating are being reworked, as well, to fit the modern action movie style.

Fields of Experience are being reworked to have mechanical impact in gameplay, interacting with the skills — in the original system, they were an ad-on, essentially skills that players didn’t want to spend character points on.  FOE will be more of a specialization that can impact one or more skills.

Skills:  First Aid will become a skill you buy.  Connoisseur will become a Field of Experience, as will Photography.  Skill ratings, and attribute ratings are being tweaked, as well.

Weaknesses had little impact on the character that I saw in game play with the old system.  There are now actual mechanical effects from weaknesses on the ease of tests, etc.

Hero Points — originally, the game had you earn HP for an excellent success, now you will gain HP for playing your strengths and weaknesses, for ideas and actions that help the plot along, as well as excellent results.  This will allow the character more opportunities for Hero Points.

Gear will get a face lift.  Cars are a lot more performance oriented, so the stat will be reworked to match the realities of modern vehicles.  Weapons will see changes to more accurately reflect the real world.

The goal is a modernized system that still keeps all the things that made JB:007 great, while making it a bit more robust and also backward compatible.

I’ve started working on tweaking the James Bond: 007 rules set, starting with trying to make fields of experience and weaknesses more interesting mechanically (search the site, there’s a couple of posts but it’s Sunday morning and I’m to lazy to link to it this moment) and now turning my attention toward the combat system.

One of the more interesting and fun mechanics (but also a hard one for new gamers to grasp) is bidding on initiative in chases.  It allows the players to craft more intense and dangerous chase sequences for their (and your) entertainment. I propose that bidding be streamlined (we’ve had bidding wars go from Ease Factor 8 all the way down to EF1/2…it gets a bit slow.)  Here’s the idea:  the GM sets a base bid for the NPCs, then the players respond (if there are multiple vehicles involved they may either agree to bid the same, or each bid themselves.  The NPCs get a chance to stay on their original bid or try to best the players.  The players get one last chance to underbid the NPCs.

Example:  James and John are on motorcycles, trying to catch the villain in his Jaguar XK8.  The villain has a fast car with good acceleration and decent cornering (PM: +1)  He bids a 6 (with the PM he’ll test against EF7…almost certain make the test successfully.)  James and John are on a Triumph Speed Triple and Yamaha R6 respectively — both get PM: +2 for the test — and John has a better skill in Driving (but has terrible luck rolling on tests like these.)  James bids an EF4 — he’s gunning the Speed Triple for all she’s worth and dodging traffic to get in close.  John decides to redline the R6 and wheelies the Yamaha through the traffic with an EF3.  James doesn’t really want to go that low on a two-wheeled vehicle.  The villain counters with an EF2 — he’s weaving through traffic and even goes into oncoming lanes, taking a hard left at the first light they approach.  Bikes…they don’t turn so well at high speed…

John really wants this guy — he punches it and bids EF1, but James decides to back off and let the villain go first.  John rolls his Driving with a PC18 at EF3 (thanks to the R6’s PM) and needs a 54.  He rolls a 67 — he’s going to fail.  He tests his safety roll since he failed (and would have since he was under the bike’s REDline.)  He needs a 54 and true to form rolls 78.  He weaves through traffic, guns the bike into a wheelie — and looks great! — then had to break hard for the turn as he gets alongside the Jaguar…and locks the breaks.  The R6 throws him for a medium wound to him and bike!

The Jaguar takes the turn, the bad guy gets an acceptable success and slews the car around the turn in a screech of tires and plume of smoke as he burns rubber.  James needs a total of EF6 to stay with him.  His patience, backing off a bit, letting the others get stupid, allows him to hook the turn on the Speed Triple at EF8 on his Driving of 15 (90 to succeed) and gets a 32 — a good result!  He’s closed the distance from long to close….

Now let’s extend this bidding system to initiative…there’s an old saying in the gun community: Better to be accurate than fast.  In this case, the bidding is applied to your combat tests and allows us to ditch the pesky d6 that has always been (to my eye) out of character with the percentile nature of the system.

In this case, the villain decided to do the classic jump out from behind cover, snap off a few shots and jump back to cover.  The GM decides this is an EF5 bid for the villain.  He has a Speed of 2 — if he wins, it’s an EF7 to try and hit the boys — James and John — before applying dodging mods, etc.

James is going to do the knee slide behind the nearest cover — say, a 55 gallon drum (yeah, we’re in an abandoned warehouse for the denouement) — and bids EF4 (with his Speed, it’s EF6 if he succeeds).  John on the other hand is going to haul ass into the fray, using a convenient set of pallets to leap into the air, double-guns blazing, screaming “aaah!”  That’s an EF3 John decides.  The villain isn’t going for it.

John goes first and with his Fire Combat PC18 rolls a 68 and 44 on his pair of 1911 .45s.  One shot bangs off of the big industrial-looking circuit breaker box the baddie is hiding behind, the other clips him in the slightly exposed shoulder.  James goes next — sliding across the floor to cover and rolls 90 and 81 on his Fire Combat PC17:  with the cover knocking his EF to 4, he misses.  It looked good, but was wholly ineffective.

The bad guy goes for it, jumping out from cover and snapping a few shots at the most obvious target — John sailing through the air and screaming “aaaah!”  He has an EF7 before we apply dodging mods for John — EF5.  He has a PC14 for his Fire Combat:  75 and 51.  The first shot goes high and blows out a window on the second floor of the abandoned warehouse/steel mill/whereverthehell we’re shooting this movie and the second clips John with an acceptable success.  On the DC: F of the baddie’s Glock 17, that’s a light wound.  After the bike accident earlier in the session, John’s character is getting seriously tashed up…

This is a preliminary version of the combat bidding I’ve been working on, but a more mature version of it might be coming to a blog — or possibly a game book — near you.

In keeping with the game tonight — more adventures of Artemis Campbell, this time it’s 1948 Yugoslavia — here’s a pair of rifles for early Cold War jaunts:

Springfield Armory M1C Garand .30-06

The M1 was one of the issue rifles for the American forces during WWII and Korea, and could be had in 7.62 NATO or .30-06 (the C is a sniper weapon and was usually in the latter; ballistically, they don’t differ enough to have different stats.)  The rifle is a semi-automatic with a “clip” of eight rounds.  On the last round, the clip is also ejected.  The weapon has to be fed through the breach and the charging lever actuated to load the weapon.

PM: +1   S/R: 2   AMMO: 8   DC: J   CLOS: 0-50   LONG: 120-200   CON: n/a   JAM: 96+   DR: -3   RL: 2

GM Information:  The M1C and D had a sniper scope and has a LONG of 240-400.

And for the Yugos…

Samozaryadniy Karabin sistemi Simonova (SKS) 7.62x39mm

This is the carbine that much of the Eastern Bloc is using throughout the 1940s and 1950s.  It was introduced during the final year of WWII, and the Yugoslavians cranked out tons of them.  They are very robust and reliable, and this semiautomatic was the predecessor of the AK-47, which borrowed heavily from this design.  The 7.62mm was less powerful than it’s 7.62x51mm NATO competition, but accurate and deadly enough at the ranges for which it was designed (out to about 500 yards.)  They are fed either by a box magazine or by a stripper clip system similar to that of the Mauser M1897 broomhandle.  They are still popular in civilian markets.

PM: 0   S/R: 2   AMMO: 10   DC: I   CLOS: 0-20   LONG: 50-90   CON: n/a   JAM: 98+   DR: -3   RL: 2

GM Information:  The bayonet on an SKS gives a PM: +1   DC: +2.

A note on the ballistics and damages of the .30(ish) calibers….the Q Manual gives the .303 British cartridge a damage of I.  The .303 British round was  much more powerful than the 7.62x39mm round — on par with the .30-06 and in the same area as the .308/7.62x51mm NATO round.  Most of the .308 weapons are given a K damage, so a 7.62mm M1 should have a DC: K.  The .303 I place at DC: J, like the .30-06, more for the spotty quality of ammunition; when properly loaded, it’s just as lethal as .308.